The August 22 post on New Tampa Patch by Skylar Hedstrom is only ten words long. Although it does manage to properly embed a recent video pitch to AOL CEO Tim Armstrong from local startup UNATION,
the fact that the “article” contains no additional commentary or quick interview quote from the nearby Tampa firm reinforces just how hyper-challenged the AOL network remains.*
UNATION has been beta testing its own hyper-local product for the past two years. In late October, the company will officially launch its free event listing service. As the the site grows, UNATION hopes to convince users to add premium services and draw in like-minded advertisers.
“Last spring, we were at the AOL offices in New York,” UNATION co-founder and chief strategy officer George Beardsley tells FishbowlNY. “We weren’t ready to show them anything, as we were still in alpha testing at that point. The topic of Patch did not come up.”
The August 20 UNATION video on New Tampa Patch, a direct invitation for Armstrong to come check out the company’s product, was conceived by Michael Harrold. Headquartered in Tampa Bay, UNATION also has offices in Boston and Sao Paolo, Brazil. “We’ve heard back from some Patch editors as well as the Patch PR people, who promised to pass on our pitch. We really want to get this in front of Armstrong, and take it from there.”
In talking with Beardsley, it’s clear that UNATION is opting for a first phase of expansion that is much more organic than the one Patch chose. The AOL network ramped up quickly in 2010 as it bet on being able to eventually leverage national advertising. Beardsley has promised to keep us posted on any further Patch developments. He says one of the ways UNATION and Patch could partner is by having the latter gradually embed relevant local content into individual or business events pages.
*Correction (August 23):
As noted in the comments below, the Patch item referenced is in fact an announcement posted to the site by a UNATION employee. FishbowlNY apologizes for the error.
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